Hot Take: Bergdahl Shouldn’t Have Been Given Dishonorable Discharge, Because It Stops Him From Healing

People, including President Trump (some on Twitter noted he should have kept his mouth shut and not Tweeted till after the decision, and they’re right), were outraged when Bowie Bergdahl got off with no jail time. But, hey, this is the NY Times, so, of course they’re going to go the opposite way in defending a deserter who not only put the lives of fellow soldiers in harms way, but saw many hurt and killed in searching for him. Here we have Rob Cuthbert, a retired Army vet who formerly managed the military discharge upgrade clinic at the Veteran Advocacy Project of the Urban Justice Center

An Injustice in the Bergdahl Sentence

In the view of many people, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl got off easy. His sentence for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy in Afghanistan in 2009, which was handed down Friday, included a dishonorable discharge and no jail time. Sergeant Bergdahl faced the possibility of life in a military prison, so his chief defense lawyer expressed “tremendous relief” at the sentence. But a dishonorable discharge is also a type of life sentence, a perpetual exile from the resources and communities that veterans, especially prisoners of war, need to heal and to reconcile with society.

Then perhaps he shouldn’t have deserted. Cuthbert admits Bergdahl walked away, even going with the silly “he was going to report people to another base commander” meme

After almost five years in Taliban captivity, I was doubtful that the Army would give Sergeant Bergdahl a life sentence; even the prosecutors capped their request at 14 years. He was guilty of crimes that led to the grave injury of other service members, but after years of working with veterans with less-than-honorable discharges, I thought about how Sergeant Bergdahl, a disabled prisoner of war, would lead the rest of his civilian life. If he was given a dishonorable discharge at 31 years old, how could he mend his wounds, attempt to pay his moral and civic debts, and contribute to the nation?

That’s his problem: he intentionally committed crimes, knowing full well what the penalties for them are. He’s lucky he wasn’t put in front of a a firing squad for desertion in the face of the enemy. But, hey, he was treated poorly by the Taliban, per Berhdahl’s word. What’s the word of a deserter?

Sergeant Bergdahl will soon receive his dishonorable discharge. He will be a civilian with significant physical disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder and a very high risk of suicide. Of the six types of discharge, dishonorable is the most punishing. When he is discharged, Sergeant Bergdahl will be denied almost all reintegration benefits — including comprehensive medical — and he will also not be recognized as a veteran by the federal government. He will come back wounded to family and friends who love him, without the expert medical care of a country that must balance its responsibility to punish him and to heal him.

His problem. Actions have consequences. But, hey, the hot take gets hotter

The trajectory of Sergeant Bergdahl’s career speaks to tragic and avoidable flaws in the military mental health care system. Sergeant Bergdahl suffers from schizotypal personality disorder, and it was only after a mental health-related discharge from the Coast Guard that the Army enlisted him on a medical waiver. If his illness had been treated before his crimes, he could have been eligible for an honorable discharge with benefits. The available military record shows that when Sergeant Bergdahl left his place of duty, he was an exemplary, idealistic young soldier who lived with mental illness, not a traitor.

Got that? Cuthbert is blaming the Army. And goes on and on, thinking that, if military superiors won’t provide clemency, a bipartisan selection of members of Congress should appeal to the Army authorities for clemency. Right. Pretty much the only ones who would support a deserter would be Democrats.

Sergeant Bergdahl’s permanently injured, would-be rescuers are selfless and brave. But we must remember that — regardless of Sergeant Bergdahl’s tragic and unnecessary circumstances of capture — it was the enemies of America who tortured him and tried to kill those who sought to rescue him.

Sergeant Bergdahl’s misguided crimes can’t be forgotten, but his punishment must have limits. In light of his courage in captivity, we must be able to balance two compatible martial values: honor and mercy.

He had no honor, and he received mercy by not being stuck in jail for a decade or more. Or being shot. You know, though, that there will be some movement by leftists to ask for clemency for Bergdahl. These are the same people who supported cop killer Mumia, after all.

Crossed at Right Wing News.

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30 Responses to “Hot Take: Bergdahl Shouldn’t Have Been Given Dishonorable Discharge, Because It Stops Him From Healing”

  1. Jeffery says:

    TEACH: Where and when did you serve? We’re reasonably certain you supported America’s incursion in Afghanistan. To us, you seem like a young, healthy American. If you didn’t serve, who are you to judge Sgt. Berghdahl?

    Army veteran Cuthbert claims Sgt. Bergdahl suffered from a mental illness that the Army should have recognized. Is it possible those who WERE authorized to judge Sgt. Bergdahl took that into consideration.

    Our blood thirsty Draft Dodger-in-Chief and his Draft Dodger minions cry for Sgt. Bergdahl’s head. Sgt. Bergdahl abandoned his post and was held captive by the Taliban for five years. If he had been caught by our military instead of the Taliban he would “likely” have served a brief stint in the brig and been dishonorably discharged.

    This is why we have military courts try these cases and not Kangaroo Kourts engineered by political hacks like tRump.

    • drowningpuppies says:

      Where and when did you serve?

      BTW, little guy, you never explained why you lied about “volunteering” for the Army in 1971, you know, during the Vietnam war.

    • If you didn’t serve, who are you to judge Sgt. Berghdahl?

      When and where were you president? If you didn’t serve, who are you to judge President Trump?

  2. Jeffery says:

    The TEACH typed:

    He had no honor

    You judge a man on a single act? It wasn’t as if he sexually assaulted women, refused to pay contractors, or cheated college students out of millions of dollars.

    What do you or tRump know of honor?

    • Dana says:

      We very frequently judge people on a single act, when that act is particularly reprehensible. I hear that Charles Manson, for example, was quite a nice guy among his cult followers. Susan Smith was such a nice woman, with really just one offense. Andrea Yates?

      It is no surprise to me that our host’s pet leftist would advocate even for a cowardly deserter who put many honorable soldiers at risk, some of whom have been maimed for life.

      Mr Bergdahl deserves a miserable rest of his life.

      • Jeffery says:

        You equate walking away from your post with mass murder and the murder of children?

        Fortunately, the military disagrees with our blood-thirsty hypocritical brethren who pay others to fight the wars they support.

        lthough we can’t advocate that tRump die a painful death at the hands of a white patriot, we would not shed a tear if he did receive the justice he deserves.

        • david7134 says:

          That is definitely one of your more stupid and crazy comments, congratulations, I did not think you could get even more bizarre. I would bet all those parties are getting to you with the role out of your new drug.

        • Dana says:

          Jeffrey wrote:

          You equate walking away from your post with mass murder and the murder of children?


          Mr Bergdahl was (supposedly) a soldier, and he knew full well that when he deserted, soldiers from his base would be out combing the territory, looking for him. His desertion deliberately exposed other soldiers to greater danger, and some of those soldiers were seriously wounded.

          If you set a building on fire, and a fireman is injured or killed in the attempt to put it out, you are not only guilty of arson, but of injuring someone or, perhaps, manslaughter. If you get behind the wheel after getting drunk, and you cause an accident in which someone is killed, you are not just guilty of driving under the influence, but of manslaughter or vehicular homicide.

    • You judge a man on a single act?

      Yeah, it’s called desertion. It’s codified in law. People are judged for lots of single actions. You judge the scumbag Las Vegas killer, right? Off a single act, right?

      It wasn’t as if he sexually assaulted women, refused to pay contractors, or cheated college students out of millions of dollars.

      You mean like Elizabeth Edwards and Bernie Sanders’ wife? Anyhow, his actions led to fellow soldiers being wounded and killed. I guess that’s no biggie in your world, eh?

      • Jeffery says:

        Sgt. Bergdahl was a captive, and was tortured by the Taliban. He received a dishonorable discharge, fined $10,000, loss of rank and lost all future veterans benefits. All these punishments are consistent with his act.

        Their is scant evidence that Sgt. Bergdahl’s actions led to anyone being killed.

  3. Dana says:

    As a good Catholic, I cannot say that I hope Mr Bergdahl will face the justice he escaped at the hands of vigilantes, so I won’t say it. But if such does happen, I can assure you that I will shed no tears.

    • Jeffery says:

      According to our military, in Sgt Bergdahl’s case and in other desertion cases, Bergdahl did receive the justice he deserved.

      Do you think he should be put to death?

      • david7134 says:

        I think that with what has transpired, the military should publish Bergdahl’s place of residence and work and let the families that he killed decide what to do.

      • Dana says:

        No, according to one very stupid officer, Mr Bergdahl was going to be released.

        Put to death? No, I’d rather see him suffer the same fate as MSG Mark Allen, who was shot in the temple during the search for the cowardly deserter.

        • Jeffery says:

          As our IIC (Idiot in Chief) said, Mr. Allen knew what he was signing up for. We think Dotard tRump should be shot in the temple for his crimes against America and Americans.

          • david7134 says:

            Can you take the time to list Trumps crimes. He is doing great to me. But I want to hear the distorted view you have.

  4. gbear says:

    See US vs. Eddie Slovik, 1945.

    Me: US Army 1968 – 1971.

  5. Jeffery says:


    The nation and her people are grateful for your service.

    Is there a reason you had to go back almost 75 years to find a case to satisfy tRump’s, TEACH’s and dave’s bloodlust? Did no soldier desert during Vietnam?

    • drowningpuppies says:

      Speaking of Vietnam, ya know, can you explain why you lied about volunteering for the Army in 1971?

      Huh, little guy?

    • gbear says:

      Honor does not change. Any deserter should be shot. Reduces recidivism.

      • Jeffery says:


        Why do you think the US military doesn’t execute deserters, even during our frequent undeclared “wars”?

        Why do you think far-right conservative men (most of whom themselves refuse to serve) support shooting deserters? (Reason: Since Con Men want to avoid fighting in the wars they support, they support any deterrent that keeps “others” fighting in their place).

        Why should any soldier die for a lie? Nixon, LBJ and W. Bush should have been shot for having so many Americans killed.

  6. Dana says:

    Now that he’s free, perhaps Bowe Bergdahl can marry Bradley Manning.

  7. Jeffery says:

    21,000 Americans deserted in WWII and Private Eddie Slovik was the only one executed. 21,000.

    The US Military appears to disagree with your opinion.

    Dotard tRump swindled students out of millions. We think he should be shot. Reduces recidivism.

    • drowningpuppies says:

      Huh, little guy?
      Lots of guys like you lied about volunteering for the Army.
      Why did you?

    • david7134 says:

      He dwindled millions??? That was before he was president and taken care of. But millions?? I don’t think you have a clue.

  8. Jeffery says:


    You didn’t hear? Dotard tRump cheated students out of millions of dollars with his fake university. He paid $25 million to settle. That in itself should have told us that he was unfit to lead this nation.

    • david7134 says:

      As usual Jeff, you have a small, distorted piece of the story. At some point you should grow up.

      • Jeffery says:


        We welcome your explanation of the tRump University story. Are there hidden details that we don’t know?

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